Toyota Grants Free Access to Hybrid Patents

Toyota Motor Corp. will offer free access to nearly 24,000 of its hybrid vehicle patents through 2030.

The initiative, which includes some patents that are still pending, covers electric motors, power control units, systems controls and other electrified vehicle technologies. Toyota says the patents can help competitors improve performance and reduce the size and cost of hybrid systems.

In addition, Toyota is offering to sell electrified system components to competitors and will provide fee-based technical support to companies that use its systems.

In 2015 Toyota granted royalty-free access to about 5,700 patents related to the company’s fuel cell technology. The new plan covers 2,600 patents related to electric motors, 2,000 for PCUs, 7,600 for system controls, 1,300 for engine transaxles, 2,200 for charters and an additional 2,400 for fuel cell systems.

Toyota says the scheme will help expand and prolong the global market for hybrids as carmakers scramble to embrace more expensive all-electric vehicles. But media reports point out that the strategy also helps buy more development time for Toyota, which has been slow to enter the battery-electric market.

The company anticipates its hybrid know-how may be of particular interest to carmakers in emerging markets, including China.

Toyota has sold more than 13 million hybrid vehicles since launching the Prius in 1997, far more than the rest of the industry combined. The company’s first EV, a variant of the small C-HR crossover, is due to launch next year in China.